Shi Qingxuan threw the best holiday parties. Feng Xin couldn't argue that. She went all out with garlands and sparkling lights, a beautiful tree big enough to brush the ceiling, a DJ mixing holiday tunes with regular party music, an open bar, and bite size food piled high on serving plates.
The food, of course, was the reason Feng Xin was wedged in the corner near the serving table. Good place to munch and observe the party. He certainly wasn't trying to avoid anyone, like his stupid roommate. Who he had a stupid crush on. And his stupid best friend had half-convinced him to tell his stupid roommate - no, that wasn't fair. Xie Lian wasn't stupid. The rest he'd stand by, though.
"It's true!" Xie Lian said, delighted.
"You're guessing. You don't know anything," Feng Xin scowled. "And even if it's true, it doesn't matter. He'd laugh at me."
"No, he wouldn't," Xie Lian said.
"Oh, come on! I made a single typo eight years ago and he's still calling me Ju Yang!"
"He won't laugh at you for this!" Xie Lian said earnestly. "I bet he feels the same way!"
"No way. He hates me," Feng Xin said.
"You're his best friend," Xie Lian said.
"You're his best friend," Feng Xin corrected. "I'm the roommate he's gotten used to putting up with."
"We're all best friends," Xie Lian said stubbornly. "Just think about it. You know, 'at Christmas you tell the truth...'"
"That's not a real thing," Feng Xin said grouchily. "Why wouldn't you tell the truth all year long?"
Xie Lian looked smug.
"I didn't mean-!" Feng Xin groaned. "Fine, I'll think about it."
And now he couldn't stop thinking about it.
Hua Cheng wandered over to the food table and started piling Xie Lian's favorite egg rolls onto a sparkly red paper plate. He looked over at Feng Xin, glanced above him, and smirked. "Cheap, but efficient, I suppose."
The options here were either ask Hua Cheng what the fuck he was talking about, which would only make him more intolerable, or pretend to know what Hua Cheng was talking about and make him go away faster. Feng Xin decided to go the second route.
"You just wish you'd thought of it first," Feng Xin snapped.
Hua Cheng's grin widened. "You know, it could be fun." He popped an egg roll in his mouth and walked away.
Maybe he should have asked.
Feng Xin suddenly spotted Mu Qing headed his way, and fuck, he'd boxed himself into a corner. Fine, he could make small talk, pretend he was bringing food to someone, and make an escape. But just before he picked up a plate, he glanced up to see what Hua Cheng had been looking at.
Oh, fuck. Fuck fuck fuckity merry fucking fuck!
Mu Qing was getting closer, but he was looking to the side and not at Feng Xin. He had only moments to act. Desperately, Feng Xin reached up and swiped the mistletoe. Mu Qing spotted Feng Xin then and headed toward him. Feng Xin spotted a bowl next to the carrots and had an inspiration. He dunked the mistletoe in ranch dressing, struck a casual pose and munched on the leaves.
"What. Are you doing?" Mu Qing demanded.
"Uh, eating," Feng Xin looked pointedly at the table of food. He chewed quickly.
Mu Qing's hand lashed out and grabbed Feng Xin's wrist. He pulled Feng Xin's hand away from his mouth. "This is mistletoe! You're eating mistletoe?"
Well, they weren't under the mistletoe, at least. So it didn't count. "It's festive," Feng Xin said, and swallowed.
Tried to swallow. Because Mu Qing's other hand lashed out and grabbed Feng Xin by the throat. "Spit it out," he ordered.
"Wha' the fu'!" Feng Xin sputtered.
"Mistletoe is poisonous," Mu Qing snapped. "Spit. It. Out. Or I swear to all the gods and buddhas I will stick my fingers down your throat and make you puke."
Oh. Well, fuck. Feng Xin meekly picked up a napkin from the table and spat/coughed out the chewed mistletoe. He threw that and the uneaten portion in the garbage.
"Where did you find it?" Mu Qing asked.
"Uh, by the carrots," Feng Xin lied. "I thought it was part of the vegan platter." That sounded suspicious. "I've been trying to eat more veggies," he added quickly.
"It must have fallen down." Mu Qing looked up, and so did Feng Xin, and to Feng Xin's absolute horror, there was still a single, tiny sprig of mistletoe still tied to a ribbon above them. Both of them were silent for a long, awkward moment. "I'm not kissing you until you get some mouthwash and rinse that poison out of your mouth," Mu Qing said finally.
"Yeah. Okay," Feng Xin said. The mistletoe had left a pretty terrible taste in his mouth, so gargling was probably a good idea.
Wait. Hold on. Roll that back.
"Did you say 'until'?" Feng Xin asked.
Mu Qing suddenly found the carrots very interesting. "We don't have to. It's not a binding contract."
"Yeah, it is," Feng Xin said, before he could consider the wisdom of his words. "Mistletoe. I mean. You gotta. With mistletoe."
"I suppose there is a strong precedent," Mu Qing agreed. "An unwritten contract, even."
They stared at each other, in a silence that actually wasn't as awkward as it really should be. "Okay," Feng Xin said finally. "I'm gonna go find some mouthwash." He took a step towards the bathroom, but hesitated, and looked back at Mu Qing.
Mu Qing nodded. He stepped into the spot Feng Xin had just left. "I'll wait for you," he said. "Right here."
"Hey," Xie Lian said. He pointed up. "Mistletoe." Mu Qing and Feng Xin looked up. Mu Qing grinned.
"Reminds me of our first kiss," he said to Feng Xin.
Feng Xin groaned, and tipped his cup back to hide the redness of his cheeks. "Do you have to bring that up every single year?"
"Of course!" Mu Qing smirked.
"I think it's romantic," Xie Lian sighed. He leaned against Hua Cheng, who kissed the top of his head.
"Ew! No!" Cuocuo made a face like he was going to vomit. "You've been married like eight hundred years-"
"Ten years, next week," Xie Lian corrected.
"Whatever," Cuocuo said, stacking mini brownies on a plate with enough force to send crumbs scattering. "Baba tried to poison himself so he didn't have to kiss Dad? Why do you want to celebrate that?"
"Yeah, why?" Feng Xin asked.
"One, because Ju Yang here is adorable when he's being an idiot," Mu Qing said.
"Do you think there's a divorce lawyer open over the holidays?" Feng Xin asked to no one in particular.
"And two," Mu Qing took Feng Xin's hand and squeezed it. "It lead to one of the best memories in my life." Now he was only focused on Feng Xin. "When you came back and found me under the mistletoe. I was terrified it was a prank-"
"Me too," Feng Xin said quietly.
"But you put your arms around me," Mu Qing pulled him close, and Feng Xin wrapped his arms around Mu Qing's waist. "And you leaned in..." Mu Qing cupped Feng Xin's cheek in one hand and kissed him. Their first kiss had been fumbling, sweet, but awkward. The start of a journey. Now, they knew each others' mouths. They knew the way Feng Xin's arms fit perfectly around Mu Qing's waist, and the way Feng Xin liked Mu Qing's fingers to slid up the back of his neck and into his hair, pulling just a little, just enough to know that Mu Qing had a firm grip.
"Come on," Xie Lian said quietly. "Let's give them a moment." He put a hand on Cuocuo's shoulder and one on Hua Cheng's arm and steered them away.
"Gross," Cuocuo muttered, stuffing a handful of mini brownies into his mouth.
"Gross," Hua Cheng agreed, draping his arm over Xie Lian.
Feng Xin and Mu Qing remained entwined with each other, under the mistletoe. Mu Qing was never going to let him forget the time he'd eaten mistletoe. Or the time he'd made a mistake and called himself Enormous Masculinity. Or any number of stupid, petty, horribly embarrassing things he'd done.
But it meant that Mu Qing never stopped thinking of him. And that... yeah. That part was good.